Wales Food and Drink

Wales' gastronomic stock is rising, as more and more visitors discover that it's laced with edible pleasures for foodies. The old joke runs that Wales has more sheep than people, and it's true that lamb is never off the menu for long but there's more to Wales than its luscious lamb. The shores around Wales are homes to a great variety of fresh fish and shellfish. Mullet and brown shrimps are common on the Gower peninsula, as well as cockles, whilst several producers have awards for their crab and smoked fish. These producers have attracted a legion of new fans that care about provenance. Farmers' markets and food festivals dotted around the country are gaining in popularity, whilst a growing number of celebrated chefs work from the Welsh countryside.

In terms of eating out, the majority of restaurants are mainly concentrated in major cities such as Cardiff and Swansea, and though most local pubs will sell food too, this tends to be more rustic fare. Foreign cuisine hasn't made great in-roads into the Welsh palate (apart from the ever-popular curry house and Italian restaurants) but the country certainly has some gems tucked away, with Michelin-starred The Walnut Tree setting the standard. With this flourishing enthusiasm for produce and heritage, it seems the image of Wales as being somewhat lacking on the culinary front is truly out of date.

Specialities

• Welsh rarebit (cheese on toast).
• Cockles.
• Caerphilly and goat’s cheese.
• Salt-marsh lamb (lamb raised on salt marshes to graze samphire and sorrel, usually served with rosemary).
Bara brith (fruit loaf made with tea-soaked raisins and currants).
• Laverbread (bread made with seaweed).
• Welsh cakes (scone-like small flat sweet pancakes made with sultanas or currants).
• Welsh cawl (a meat and vegetable broth).

Tipping

A service charge (usually 10-12.5%) might be included in the prices stated on the menu but it is more likely to be added to the bill at the end. This is technically an optional charge. Where 'service is not included', a tip of at least 10% is expected. Diners should check the bill thoroughly, as tipping is not required on top of a service charge. Tipping is not expected, but is welcomed, in bars and pubs if ordering at the bar.

Regional drinks

• Cider (popular drinks include Orchard Gold and Perry Vale).
• Beer (Purple Moose, Brains and Felinfoel are popular Welsh brands).
• Merlyn (cream liqueur similar to Irish cream).
• Penderyn (single malt whisky).

Drinking age

18.

Edited by Jane Duru
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